Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

We had the great joy of attending the traditional Good Friday services this afternoon. But even in the traditional rite, since as the rubric has it "the Holy Roman Empire being vacant", there was no prayer for the Emperor in the Great Litany. As none of my old Missals contain that prayer, yours probably doesn't either. For those who, like me, wondered how it went, here it is:

Oremus pro Christianissimo imperatore nostro N., ut Deus et Dominus noster subditas illi faciat omnes barbaras nationes, ad nostram perpetuam pacem.


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, in cuius manu sunt omnium iura regnorum: respice ad Romanum benignus Imperium; ut gentes quæ in sua feritate confidunt, potentiæ tuæ dextera comprimantur. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum. Amen.

Let us pray for our most Christian emperor N., that God and our Lord may render all barbarous nations subject to him, for our perpetual peace.

Let us pray

Almighty and everlasting God in whose hand are the powers and the rights of all governments; look favourably on the Roman empire; that the nations which trust in their own fierce might may be overcome by the hand of Thy power. Through our Lord. Amen.

The commentator explains that this prayer is one of the indicators of the antiquity of the Great Litany. The whole paragraph which includes some of the other prayers is worth quoting:
"We find in it the term ostiarius, whose office was later filled by the mansionarius; monks, as in the Leonine Sacramentary, are called confessores; nuns, virgines and not sanctimoniales; prayer is made that the Roman Emperor may subdue all the barbarians, and the Roman Empire is considered as the only legitimately constituted temporal power, exactly as St Leo deemed it to be. The disciplinary rule of the catechumens is still in force, the world is torn by heresies, ravaged by pestilence, straitened by famine; innocent men are wrongfully detained in prison, slavery still disgraces the ancient civilization of Rome. All these circumstances at once recall the fifth century, therefore we attribute to the golden period of the Roman Liturgy the final and definite form of this majestic prayer which we may undoubtedly look upon as having originated in the time of the Apostles."